18 Best Marketing Books to Read in 2021

Home » Books » Marketing BooksUpdated: May 10, 2021

You found our list of the best marketing books.

Marketing books are nonfiction guides that explain how to build a brand and gain visibility for a company, product, or service. These books cover topics such as branding, digital marketing, social media, and storytelling. The purpose of these books is to teach marketing competencies and help industry professionals craft quality and compelling marketing content and campaigns.

These works are a subset of business books and are similar to books on business strategy and entrepreneurship.

This list contains:

  • marketing books for beginners
  • digital marketing books
  • marketing books for startups
  • books on social media marketing
  • marketing analytics books
  • books on marketing psychology

Here we go!

List of marketing books

From social media content manuals to marketing psychology books, here is a list of newly released and all-time best selling books.

1. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland

Alchemy

Alchemy examines the strange magic of marketing through the lens of psychology. The world of consumer logic is often illogical, yet this book argues that the unpredictable nature of human behavior can actually be an asset to marketers. The strange reasoning behind consumer choices provides an opportunity for marketers to make an unlikely brand or product insanely popular. While this phenomenon can be unpredictable, the book lays out a list of rules to increase the chances of creating a hit. Alchemy is an entertaining and informative read that reveals the strange and wonderful workings of the marketing world.

Notable Quote: “Our conscious mind tries hard to preserve the illusion that it deliberately chose every action you have ever taken; in reality, in many of these decisions it was a bystander at best, and much of the time it did not even notice the decision being made.”

Buy Alchemy.

2. The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd by Allen Dib

The 1 page marketing plan

The 1-Page Marketing Plan is a guide for creating a quick and simple yet effective marketing strategy. Allen Dib proposes a short and sweet alternative to the more time-consuming and involved marketing plans that intimidate many professionals. The 1-Page Marketing Plan discusses ways to gain new customers and new business from existing customers, tailor campaigns to match business size, dominate competitors, and stretch small budgets to optimize return on investment. The book lays out a formula for drawing up a game plan that fits on a single page, helping organizations to identify marketing priorities.

Notable Quote: “Focusing on the cause (value) rather than the effect (making money) will lead to much greater long-term success.”

Buy The 1-Page Marketing Plan.

3. This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin

This is marketing

This is Marketing is one of the best marketing books for beginners. Marketing guru Seth Godin shares his cardinal industry rules and best practices in one condensed volume. The book addresses topics like identifying viable markets, learning by listening and observing, and tailoring the message to fit particular audiences. Each chapter prescribes advice like “trust is as scarce as attention,” and “treat different people differently.” This is Marketing outlines the central strategies and storytelling techniques that make marketing efforts successful and remarkable.

Notable Quote: “Everything gets easier when you walk away from the hubris of everyone. Your work is not for everyone. It’s only for those who signed up for the journey.”

Buy This Is Marketing.

4. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

Everybody writes

Everybody Writes is MarketingProfs executive Ann Handley’s tips for crafting quality content. The book outlines writing behaviors that help marketers become master storytellers. For instance, cultivating a writing habit, churning out bad first drafts and editing meticulously, and expressing complex ideas through simple language. The guide also drills the rules of grammar, story structure, and citation, as well as best practices for styling content to fit various platforms. While aimed at marketers, Everybody Writes is a general handbook for effective storytelling. Many of the tips in the book are suitable for writing workshops or journalism classes, primarily because basic writing principles are important marketer tools. At its core, marketing is about making the audience feel emotion, and only clear, well-crafted content can achieve this end.

Notable Quote: “Assume the reader knows nothing. But don’t assume the reader is stupid.”

Buy Everybody Writes.

5. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Contagious

Contagious is an exploration of the factors that make concepts spread like wildfire. This subject matter is especially relevant for the current era of marketing, given the emphasis on viral content. The book examines the elements that make ideas shareable and sensational, namely triggers, emotion, social currency, and practical value. Each section contains examples and anecdotes that illustrate the ways savvy marketers use these tools to shape public perception. Rather than championing gimmicks, the book explores how to speak to the human experience. Contagious contains instructions for spreading irresistible ideas.

Notable Quote: “People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.”

Buy Contagious.

6. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

made to stick

Made to Stick is one of the best books on marketing psychology. The work shares compelling cultural case studies and examines the reasons why fictions often tend to spread faster and farther and persist longer than fact. Chapters outline five basic qualities of stickiness: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, and emotional, each illustrated through a string of entertaining anecdotes. The book explores topics such as decision paralysis, empathy, and observation. Made to Stick provides an actionable blueprint for marketers to craft tales with staying power.

Notable Quote: “The most basic way to get someone’s attention is this: Break a pattern.”

Buy Made to Stick.

7. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

Building a story brand

Building a StoryBrand teaches leaders how to craft a clear and consistent brand message that resonates with audiences. The book explores consumer reasoning and lays out steps for appealing to audiences. Brand is the way companies speak to customers, and this guide provides a framework for communicating each part of the company story. Chapters outline techniques like wielding the seven universal human story points, crafting compelling calls to action, optimizing copy for different mediums, and making brands understandable and relatable to target demographics. Building a StoryBrand is the ultimate manual for corporate branding.

Notable Quote: “In every line of copy we write, we’re either serving the customer’s story or descending into confusion; we’re either making music or making noise.”

Buy Building a StoryBrand.

8. Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business by Kindra Hall

stories that stick

Stories That Stick is a masterclass in marketing storytelling. Preaching the point that the story is the sale, the book explains how narratives can captivate an otherwise unreceptive audience. Stories That Stick presents frameworks for four main story types–founder, value, purpose, and customer– explaining the nuances and different uses for each category. The author demonstrates these points through the use of enchanting prose and great hooks that engage readers. The book is not only an exploration of effective storytelling, but also a concrete example of the art.

Notable Quote: “A perfectly placed, impeccably delivered story can transport a person to a place beyond interested, straight past paying attention, and into a state of complete captivation.”

Buy Stories That Stick.

9. Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It by April Dunford

obviously awesome

Obviously Awesome is a primer on positioning, or the way brands present products to consumers and differentiate offerings from competitors. Positioning is a particularly desirable skill for the technology industry, where innovative products emerge constantly. However, this ability is valuable for any field. The book covers methods for choosing an appropriate market and niche, types of positioning, and ways to utilize market trends. Obviously Awesome teaches readers how to grab the target market’s attention, lure in prospective fans, and make customers fall in love with the product.

Notable Quote: “Keep in mind that most of your target customers have never heard of you or your rival startups—they simply want to know how your product compares to what they use today.”

Buy Obviously Awesome.

10. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

Jab jab right hook

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the biggest names in digital marketing, so it makes sense that he’s written one of the best books on social media marketing. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook outlines strategies for major social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Though each platform requires a targeted approach and customized content, social success on any channel boils depends on one key rule: tell a compelling, audience appropriate story. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is an ageless guidebook for commanding attention on social media by using an authentic and engaging voice.

Pro-tip: For information on newer social media platforms like Tik-Tok and Clubhouse, supplement this book with Gary Vee’s more current content, such as podcasts and blog posts.

Notable Quote: “The better you learn the psychology and habits of your social media consumers, the better you can tell the right story at the right time.”

Buy Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

11. Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step StoryBrand Guide for Any Business by Donald Miller

Marketing made simple

Marketing Made Simple is a guide to branding and sales funnel management. Donald Miller breaks down the basics of brand storytelling and customer-nurturing by providing checklists, anecdotes, and actionable steps. The book outlines topics such as managing client expectations and relationships, designing targeted sales funnels, optimizing websites for conversion, and leveraging email campaigns to build brand visibility and attract potential leads. Marketing Made Simple is a valuable marketing and sales resource for beginners or seasoned marketers looking to get back to basics.

Notable Quote: “Customers are not interested in your story. They are, rather, interested in being invited into a story that has them surviving and winning in the end.”

Buy Marketing Made Simple.

12. Digital Marketing Strategy: An Integrated Approach to Online Marketing by Simon Kingsnorth

Digital marketing strategy

This textbook is one of the most comprehensive digital marketing books available. Digital Marketing Strategy outlines the essentials of online marketing, including SEO, content marketing, automation, and email. The book explains how to plan, implement, and measure various virtual marketing techniques, as well as how to keep data secure. The material covers the full scope of digital marketing, from understanding the online ecosystem and remote consumers, to meeting budgets and business objectives, to optimizing for user experience, and beyond. Digital Marketing Strategy covers a variety of online marketing approaches, techniques, and components, and is a valuable reference for marketers of all levels.

Notable Quote: “If we stop the long-term activity we may make some savings for a few months but then we will be even further behind our competition….Reducing digital activity or marketing in general is a dangerous path. You could trial reducing activity in specific areas if necessary and display the impact of this on the business in order to tell your story.”

Buy Digital Marketing Strategy.

13. Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans by David Meerman Scott and Reiko Scott

fanocracy

Fanocracy demonstrates how to capitalize on fandom and transform admirers into buyers. David Meerman Scott and Reiko Scott examine the neuroscience of fandom, exploring what makes people passionate about a topic and what maintains that interest. The book strategizes on how to capitalize on intense interest without seeming opportunistic or insincere. The chapter titles outline best practices such as, “build identity to become more than the product,” and develop employees such as fans,” and each section contains case studies and stories to illustrate these points. Fanocracy teaches marketers how to build on opportunity, encourage devotees, and sustain popularity.

Notable Quote: “To be successful in a world where fans rule, we must be convinced that relationships with customers are more important than the the products or services we sell to them.”

Buy Fanocracy.

14. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk by by Al Ries and Jack Trout

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is one of the most popular marketing books of all time. Drawing on years of consultant experience, the authors lay down the golden rules of marketing. The book explores concepts such as leadership, perspective, perception, and unpredictability. Each chapter starts with a general statement and explores the declaration in depth. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is an anthology of marketing mantras.

Notable Quote: “Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products.”

Buy The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

15. Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown

hacking growth

Hacking Growth is one of the better marketing books for startups. Growth hacking is a process marketers use to quickly grow a company’s client base and reputation by testing multiple methods of reaching potential customers. Hacking Growth reveals the techniques and tactics that helped some of the most successful startups grow from beginner companies to household names. The book provides a toolkit for rapidly growing customer bases and market shares for both new and established organizations.

Notable Quote: “You want to track, at a minimum, the metrics for each of the steps users must take to reach the aha moment and how often they are taking those steps.”

Buy Hacking Growth.

16. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore

crossing the chasm

Crossing the Chasm explains how to introduce groundbreaking new products to the market. The author explains that behavior and sentiment differs between early adopters, customers willing to take risks on new products, and the early majority, users who wait for bugs to be fixed and reviews to emerge. The book aims to narrow the space of time between these two groups, accelerating the rate at which products achieve mass acceptance. Crossing the Chasm teaches readers how to educate audiences about emerging technology, encourage consumer behavioral change, and convince customers to believe in new offerings. The book equips readers with the skills and tactics needed to sell products to unassuming audiences.

Notable Quote: “Entering the mainstream market is an act of burglary, of breaking and entering, of deception, often even of stealth.”

Buy Crossing the Chasm.

17. The One Hour Content Plan: The Solopreneur’s Guide to a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Ideas in 60 Minutes and Creating Content That Hooks and Sells by Meera Kothand

One hour content plan

The One Hour Content Plan is a blogging companion for freelancers, solo marketers, and small businesses. The book explains how to generate content ideas and write posts that attract and convert readers. The guide is filled with tips about choosing topics, finding and maintaining brand voice, and crafting quality writing that achieves the desired results. Later chapters also touch on topics like editing and promoting content. While most marketing books focus on large-scale efforts and industry players, The One Hour Content Plan lays out the basics of blogging for smaller operations.

Notable Quote: “When you’re not able to articulate the direction you want your content to take your readers, it’s difficult for your readers to understand where you’re taking them too.”

Buy The One Hour Content Plan.

18. Digital Marketing Analytics: Making Sense of Consumer Data in a Digital World by Chuck Hemann and Ken Burbary

Digital marketing analytics

Digital Marketing Analytics is one of the most comprehensive marketing analytics books available. While some guides focus on specific tools like Google Analytics, this book gives a broader overview of how to use data to guide marketing decisions. Chapters explore areas such as analyzing audience, improving customer service, anticipating crisis, and generating useful reports. Digital Marketing Analytics helps leaders measure environmental factors and marketing results and make logical business choices.

Notable Quote: “Tracking what happens after a user clicks on a link can be useful, but it can’t answer all the questions. New and other ways exist to fill in the gaps for a more complete picture by using a variety of digital data sources.”

Buy Digital Marketing Analytics.

Conclusion

Storytelling is one of the main tools of marketing, and reading is one of the quickest ways to improve storytelling skills. By picking up books on marketing, professionals can become more creative and strategic. The best marketers learn and experiment constantly. These books share new trends ideas as well as time-tested and evidence-based strategies and best practices. By reading these works, marketers can improve the scope and reach of campaigns and achieve better results for the time invested in these efforts.

For more reading recommendations, check out this list of change management books.

FAQ: Marketing books

Here are answers to common questions about marketing books.

What are marketing books?

Marketing books are handbooks for building brands and promoting products. These guides teach marketers how to tell stories that attract and resonate with potential customers, and also. increase visibility and sales. However, more than building a brand and selling products, marketing is about telling powerful stories and making lasting impacts on customers. The books in the genre lay out tips and best practices to ensure maximum ROI on creative and strategic effort.

What are the best books for marketing?

The best books for marketing include Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk, Contagious by Jonah Berger, Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller, and Alchemy by Rory Sutherland.

What are some good marketing books for beginners?

Some good marketing books for beginners include Everybody Writes by Ann Handley, This Is Marketing by Seth Godin
, Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller, and Digital Marketing Strategy by Simon Kingsnorth.

Why should you read marketing books?

The marketing world is fast-paced and ever-changing, and reading marketing books helps professionals keep up with marketing trends. These works can inform readers about new strategies and ideas from industry leaders from industry leaders who have invaluable insights and experiences.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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